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November 15, 1892|
Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||May 9, 1964
Hollywood, California, United States
|Resting place||Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Luther A. Reed|
Naomi Childers (November 15, 1892 – May 9, 1964) was an American silent film actress whose career lasted until the mid-20th century.
English ancestry, child actress
She was born of English parentage in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Later in life she took pride in being descended from a long line of British ancestors. Her childhood was spent in St. Louis, Missouri where she was educated in the Maryville convent. Childers began acting at the age of three, reciting at a notable function. She played a Chopin number at an adult recital at the age of eight. When she was ten Childers performed the title roles, in both Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland, at the Odeon Theater in St. Louis. In 1912 she played in The Great Name and Madame X. The theatrical presentations featured Henry Kolker and Dorothy Donnelly. On Broadway Childers appeared in Ready Money.
Childers was in movies beginning in 1913. She appeared in The Turn of the Road (1915) and The Writing on the Wall (1916). She was associated with the Vitagraph company for four years. Her most popular role was in Womanhood, the Glory of the Nation. In this film she performed a most modern characterization of Joan of Arc. In 1917 she began working with the Commonwealth Company. Childers possessed a preference for comedy, yet she was in constant demand to play more serious roles. Her character work in motion pictures was a strong asset. In the 1919 Sam Goldwyn film Lord and Lady Algy, Childers was cast in the leading feminine role. She depicted the wife of the young Lord Algy, played by Tom Moore. As a titled Englishwoman she revealed a cold exterior, but retained a warm nature.
Childers had golden hair and deep blue eyes. (In photos her hair is obviously dark not golden.) Her loveliness was highly regarded. Once she was voted the most beautiful woman in Japan. Her physical resemblance to Sarah Bernhardt was commented upon in news items. Artists all over America called her the girl with the Grecian face. She was employed as a model numerous times.
In 1919 Childers became engaged to Harold Darling Shattuck, the head of a large candy making company. Their wedding was scheduled for June, but was postponed until fall, because Childers was in Texas for an event. The actress referred to her fiancé as her Chocolate Soldier.
In December 1929 she was given a divorce from Luther A. Reed, Hollywood scenario writer and motion picture director, on grounds of desertion. The superior court of Los Angeles, California awarded Childers custody of an eight-year-old son and granted $250 a month alimony. Childers alleged Reed deserted her following nine years of married life.
Poverty and death
When Louis B. Mayer discovered Childers had come into hard times in later years, he granted her a lifetime contract from MGM. She continued to play numerous, often uncredited, roles into the early 1950s. Childers died in Hollywood, California in 1964, age 71. She is buried at Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery.
- Mr. Barnes of New York (1914)
- Lord and Lady Algy (1919)
- After His Own Heart (1919)
- The Divorcee (1919)
- The World and Its Woman (1919)
- Human Desire (1919)
- Earthbound (1920)
- Mr. Barnes of New York (1922)
- Success (1923)
- Restless Wives (1924)
- Fresno, California Bee, "Naomi Childers Reed Divorces Scenario Writer", Friday, December 13, 1929,
- La Crosse, Wisconsin Tribune, "News Notes from Movieland", Wednesday, May 3, 1918, Page 3.
- Madison, Wisconsin Capitol Times, "News Notes from Movieland", Thursday Afternoon, December 20, 1917, Page 4.
- Newark, Ohio Daily Advocate, "Amusements", Wednesday, December 17, 1919, Page 8.
- Sandusky, Ohio Star-Journal, "News Notes from Movieland", Monday, November 27, 1916, Page 9.
- Charles Foster, Stardust and Shadows, 2000, Toronto: Dundurn Press, p. 208.
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